Hola todos y todas,
We are back in home and relieved to be. Reconnect was filled with drama. I suppose I will start at the beginning. Firstly, Mat and I went to visit our friend, Ellen, who lives in the dept. of Chimaltenango. She wasn’t feeling well though as she had Giardia for the second time. Hooray for yellow, frothy diarrhea and rotten -egg smelling farts! We had planned on helping her out with some charlas and home visits (not all counterparts are worthless) but her stomach kept her at home most of the time. She did end up feeling better although too late for her birthday which was celebrated with a vegan/gluten-free/ peanut-free dinner and desert (Ellen lives around a bunch of gringas who all have some sort of dietary restriction). It was delicious though!
On to Antigua! Mat and I arrived the day before Halloween to spend some time hanging out and relaxing by ourselves. We had dinner, got hair cuts, and drank dark beer (well by Guatemalan standards). Halloween was pretty fun as you all can see from the pictures posted earlier. Let us fast forward to Monday where the joy of sharing our feelings could begin. Mat and I were not really looking forward to hearing how much work everyone was doing and having to feel crappy about not being able to do as much. And while there was a decent amount of touchy-feely sharing time, we learned that indeed, we are not alone in our frustrations. It was validating to know that we are all struggling and feeling somewhat insecure about being here/our jobs/what have you.
And now let me contar (recount) the drama from the beginning. One of the sessions from reconnect was face time with the PC Admin. Several PCVs had meetings with the country director, Martha, for being out of their sites for the night without contacting the Security Advisor (who is in charge of where we are at any given moment in case of emergencies here or at home). You can now be sent home for being out-of-site without letting him know, which has always been the policy but was not enforced...until now. The PC is really trying to discourage travel. While it isn't too dangerous, most volunteers get robbed or what have you do so usually when they leave their sites. However, it is very frustrating to be watched over, if you all feel me. So we had a session with the Admin to clarify the rules, dispell myths of past enforcement, and improve communication between PCVs and Staff. The PC Staff was very adamant about the out-of-site policy: call or be sent home.
Reconnect is over and Mat and I have Spanish for four days (and good news, we are both in the level of Advanced-low, only 3 more to go to Superior). During this time, a kid from our program got caught being out-of-site without calling! The worst part is, he got caught not calling out-of-site in Antigua! There is PC Staff all over the city as the PC office is 20 minutes away by camioneta. Of all the places to not call! They gave him the option to leave on his own or be separated administratively (yo’ ass is fired!). Shit. He had 3 days to get his stuff together and get on the plane. It really was a crazy shame because, since he was fluent, he was working and already accomplishing a lot. But he will be back in December; his girlfriend is here and they are already serious, plus he thinks that he has found a job in Xela (damn those fluents!). I can not imagine having to tell your parents though. Ouch! Hey, at least he will be able to drive here now.
Now everyone should have a crystal clear picture of the out-of-site policy and the PC Staff's attitude toward us PCVs: you will be sent home if caught. Tread lightly compañeros.
Tanto drama. Mat and I are happy to be back. There will be more frequent updates about our work since there is promise of some appearing in the near future. Plus, November is the month of our town’s feria (festival), which runs through the end of the month and should provide us with good stories and photos. We have heard that there is a rodeo AND cock fighting. While we may not be watching too much of either, there should be other great stuff to see and do. Miss you and love you all!